Summary: 

Aligning your strategy and strategic objectives with your ongoing and planned projects will ensure that you have the insight in alignment, conflicts, and complexity your organization will need to navigate if you are to deliver on your strategy. 

Connecting your Strategic Planning and Execution to your architecture bridges the business and IT organization at the management level. This reason we have developed a best practice to give you everything you need to get started and start having better alignment across your organization. 

To properly map your Strategy and Projects, we have created a standard template which you can use to answer these key questions:

Questions to be answered:

  1. What are the strategic objectives of our company?
  2. What projects realize the strategic objectives and when will these be delivered?
  3. Who is responsible for the most critical projects and what are these impacting?
  4. What are the potential conflicts in the projects we are running?

Data required:

The information below is included in the Strategic Planning and Execution module, available in app from the Best Practice menu. 

For this example, we will use our standard naming convention so that filtering and examples are consistent. You are able to use your own and simply replace the guide with your own custom field configuration.

Component Types:

  1. Strategy Workspace (Flexible): Strategy
  2. Objectives Workspace (Flexible): Objective 
  3. People Workspace (Flexible): Person
  4. Project Workspace (Flexible): Project

Reference Types: 

  1. Business Capabilities Workspace: Is Addressed By
  2. Objectives Workspace: Is Realized By
  3. People Workspace: Is Expert In, Owns
  4. Project Workspace: Is Addressed By

Component Fields:

  1. Strategy Workspace: None
  2. Objectives Workspace: None
  3. People Workspace:
    - Contact Email (Email)
  4. Projects Workspace:
    - LifeCycle Phase (List)
    - Live (Date Range Field)
    - Deliver Complexity (Number)
    - Strategic Impact (Number)
    - Total Direct Cost (Number)

For a complete introduction to the definitions of the components, references and fields in this use case, please see this article on the Strategic Planning and Execution meta model. {Insert link to meta model article}

Answering your key questions

 

What are the strategic objectives of our company?

The first and most obvious step to answering this question is to simply map your Strategy in Ardoq and use our visualizations to dynamically produce your strategic overview of objectives and projects.  

To build out your strategic overview you have a few options. 

  1. Manually collaborate in ardoq
  2. Import using our excel importer and pre-configured template

Collaborate in Aroq

We recommend you use the out of the box strategy and objectives workspaces as your starting point. 

We recommend using the grid editor as it is the most efficient in getting data in via the app UI. 

If you are looking to collaborate with the wider organization, you may want to use a survey to gather information from a broader group without training. 

Import via Excel

If you already have your strategies, objectives or projects defined in an excel sheet, you can use our excel importer to quickly get your data into Ardoq. We have also provided a pre-configured excel template with import mapping to easy the process even further.

You can find the Strategic Planning and Execution Excel Template here {Insert link to doc}

Visualizing your Strategies and Objectives

Once you start to get data into Ardoq, you can watch your strategy map dynamically update in any of our out of the box visualizations. Two views which are especially useful in looking strategies and objectives are the Capability View and the Dependency Map

Once you find the view or views best suited to getting an overview of your strategies and objectives, you will likely want to add a perspective to manage what you see and how it is formatted. 

Simple filters to only include your strategy map for example can help you start telling the story of what you are doing and what results you hope to accomplish. 

Quick filter applied to only show the Strategies and Objectives Workspaces as well as a conditional formatting on the references to show their labels. 

 

What projects realize the strategic objectives and when will these be delivered?

Once you have answered the first question, the next logical questions to answer are more geared at evaluating your alignment and execution. The first check is to see what projects you have running and how are they realizing your strategic objectives.  

By mapping out your projects and connecting them to the objectives they are realizing you will be able to quickly see which strategies are being prioritized and which are not actively being delivered on.  

Using the Dependency Map view again, you will be able to get an overview of project alignment. 

To get this view we have applied two grouping rules to the Dependency Map as you can see below. 

Understanding the question of expected delivery requires you to input data in the fields: Lifecycle Phase, Live - Start, Live -End.

These fields along with the same grouping rule above will give you a Timeline View where each project is nested under the objectives and strategy they are realizing. 

Keep in mind that all views are context sensitive, meaning you can drill down.

Who is responsible for the most critical projects and what are these impacting?

In order to understand responsibility, you need to model the people in your organization. If you have started with one of our other best practices, you will likely be able to build on your existing People Workspace. If not, you can look to import your people from tools like Active Directory or Excel files.

Criticality of your projects can be determined by plotting your projects in the Bubble Chart and using the pre-configured fields for Strategic Impact and Delivery Complexity. Setting the X and Y axis to the appropriate field values will plot your projects like you see below. Adding the Total Cost field as the bubble size will give you a third dimension for evaluation of criticality. 

  • Pro-tip: We recommend that each view tells one story. So if you would like to determine criticality of projects across your portfolio and then responsibility, we recommend two presentation slides, as too much information can be distracting. 

When drilling down to understand how specific projects are impacting your architecture and who is responsible, the Block Diagram can be extremely powerful. Using simple grouping like group by “Workspace” and a narrow scope gives you clarity into who is responsible for what and what your critical projects are impacting. 

Note that in this example, we have connected our Strategic Planning and Execution module to our Application Portfolio. 

Block Diagram with grouping and degrees of relationships set to 3 incoming and 2 outgoing.

What are the potential conflicts in the projects we are running?

Identifying potential conflicts can involve multiple perspectives. 

  • You might be concerned about people becoming bottlenecks. 
  • You might have to manage dozens of projects impacting the same value stream or even application. 

Understanding conflicts requires you to have a dynamic and connected overview of your projects and your architecture. 

Since we are connecting people to the projects which they are participating in (expert or owner references) we are able to easily identify when a person or team is running multiple projects at the same time. A great view to get this kind of overview is the Timeline View. 

Like before, using grouping and filters, you can narrow down your perspective and nest your projects under each individual giving you a quick overview of their workload.

Here you can clearly see that Tom is the owner of 4 projects running at the same time throughout most of 2021.

When you are looking at one part of your architecture, whether that is a value stream, a product, an application, or infrastructure, the Block Diagram can be a great way at understanding potential conflicts. 

In this view we have narrowed our scope to a single application and then included the people and projects impacting it. It becomes clear that there are multiple projects running which impact the Webshop but none of those projects have the Application owner on the team. 

Block diagram with Webshop in context, grouped by workspace and degrees of relationships set to 3 incoming and 1 outgoing.

Expanding on the best practice

Getting this overview is the first step to bringing your strategy into your enterprise architecture. Connecting this module to one of our other best practice modules will give you a rapid start into digging deeper into impact, criticality and complexity. 

A few ways to enrich this best practice could include: 

  • Adding calculated fields to roll up complexity scores to your projects
  • Connecting your objectives to your to-be capability models
  • Build an dashboard to report on ratio of projects supporting strategic initiatives vs. keeping the lights on
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